- November 19, 2004 List
Katherine Heigl Roughs It for Hallmark
Katherine Heigl may be best known to TV viewers as feisty humanoid alien Isabel Evans on The WB's teen sci-fi drama "Roswell," but she feels just as home out on the old prairie. If you have doubts about that, just tune into Hallmark Channel on Saturday (Nov. 20), and see her in the TV movie "Love's Enduring Promise."

A sequel to the cable net's highly rated "Love Comes Softly" -- also based on a book by writer Janette Oke -- the new movie has Heigl reprising her role as frontier wife Marty Claridge Davis, a former Easterner who lives in the American West of the 1800s with her husband, Clark Davis (Dale Midkiff). Clark's daughter, Missie (January Jones), is now a young adult, and the Davises have two sons of their own, Aaron and Arnie (K'Sun Ray, Logan Arens).

While most of the storyline revolves around Missie's choice between two suitors (Mackenzie Astin, Logan Bartholomew), Marty must deal with the aftermath of an accident that leaves Clark bedridden and in danger of death from infection.

Michael Landon Jr., son of "Little House on the Prairie" star Michael Landon, is co-writer and director for the film, as it was for its predecessor.

"I love working with Michael Landon," Heigl says. "He's amazing. And I love the prairie life. I don't think I'd love it 24/7 with no water or electricity, but there's something really peaceful and simple about it that I appreciate.

"You're out there surrounded by crew and cameras, but you can get an idea of what it must have been like. It's so peaceful and so beautiful."

Heigl was also happy to be reunited with Midkiff, whose TV credits include the science-fiction series "Time Trax" and the short-lived Western "The Magnificent Seven."

"He's a really good guy," she says. "Cool guy, good actor. We tease him a lot. When I do these projects with him, his character is a very religious man and very sensitive, so he's always praying or crying. Constantly there'd be these big dinner-table scenes, and we'd be sitting around, saying, 'OK, Pa, you're going to be cryin' or prayin', which is it?'"

Heigl has segued from teen star into adult roles, although she admits, "I was 22 when 'Roswell' ended, and I just wanted to play adults. Now that I'm almost 26, I'm like, 'I'll play a teenager again. That'd be fine.'"

One thing Heigl doesn't seem to be able to shake is the name Isabel, or variations thereof. After playing Isabel Evans, she went on to play a character named Isabel in MTV's 2003 version of "Wuthering Heights." At midseason, she'll be seen in the new ABC medical drama "Grey's Anatomy," playing a doctor named Isobel Stevens.

"At least it's spelled differently," Heigl says. "The other day, I was having a big fight in a scene, and I had to scream something. I yelled out 'Isabel Evans!' instead of 'Isobel Stevens!' I don't get it at all. Maybe I was an Isabel in my past life."

Interview and article by Kate O'Hare